NEW YORK (Reuters) — In the 20 years since Sept. 11, 2001, a new generation has grown up in a world forever altered by the attacks.
At the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, President and CEO Alice Greenwald has the task of helping to educate the new generation and to make sure those who lived through that horrendous day never forget the tremendous heroism and sacrifices made.
“For those of us who witnessed 9/11 20 years ago, it’s seared into our consciousness. We cannot ever not remember what our eyes saw. But for this generation, it’s history to be learned,” Greenwald recently told Reuters.
Ahead of this year’s anniversary, the Museum and Memorial launched a new educational campaign and fundraiser called the Never Forget Fund.
Money donated to the Never Forget Fund will support educational campaigns to teach young people about the attack on the U.S. and the global aftermath. Those who donate early will receive a hand-made limited-edition commemorative ticket for admission to the museum.
Greenwald said the museum offers an important lesson to the younger generation about overcoming extraordinary hardship.
“This memorial, this museum tells a story about the best of human nature in response to the worst. And we need to remind this generation that they have the capacity for unity, for hope and for resilience when faced with challenges that you couldn’t imagine and aren’t yet prepared to deal with.” She added, “But you will rise to the occasion and if you come together, you will meet adversity and prevail.”
Every year, the 9/11 Museum and Memorial leads the national remembrance with a ceremony to read the names of those killed. The ceremony includes six moments of silence for when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and collapsed as well as the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania.
“For many it’s a cemetery. Forty percent of the families of victims who died at the World Trade Center have in 20 years received nothing of their loved ones. This is where they come to grieve,” Greenwald said.
In the evening, the annual Tribute in Light will illuminate from where the towers once stood. This year, buildings all over New York City, including the Empire State Building and landmark bridges, will join in solidarity and glow in blue light.
Among some, there is concern that after the 20th anniversary, interest in Sept. 11 will fade. Greenwald said the 9/11 Memorial and Museum will make sure that does not happen.
“Gettysburg has not yet been overshadowed by other events. Pearl Harbor has not been overshadowed by other events.”
She added, “This was a seminal event in American and global history that happened here. And we can’t renege on our promise of two decades ago. We will never forget.”